The World Junior Hockey championship does not begin until Boxing Day, but it is world junior time already in major junior hockey.
Team Canada officially opened their final selection camp yesterday in Oakville, Ont., and that means that the London Knights have begin life without some key people for the next 11 games.
London forwards Liam Foudy and Connor McMichael are with Team Canada which joining head coach Dale Hunter, general manager Mark Hunter, equipment manager Chris Maton and head of security Bob Martin who left the Knights on Sunday.
It’s never easy finding ways to fill the holes players and people like that leave but the London has been finding ways for years.
Last season they were missing Evan Bouchard and Adam Boqvist and the Knights went 5-0-2-1.
The year before London went without Victor Mete, Alex Formenton, Robert Thomas and Max Jones. Their record was 7-1-0-1.
Even in the year the Knights last won the Memorial Cup when they lost their entire top line of Mitch Marner, Christian Dvorak and Matthew Tkachuk along with one of their top defencemen in Olli Juolevi, London found ways to win games. They went 6-2-1 with that quartet at the World Junior tournament.
In the past 5 years the Knights have 30 wins, just six regulation time losses, three losses in overtime and three in shootouts.
That is a winning percentage of .760.
Here is a list of Knights players who participated in past tournaments and the record the team had while players were away:
Missing: Evan Bouchard and Adam Boqvist
Missing: Victor Mete, Alex Formenton, Robert Thomas, Max Jones
Missing: Tyler Parsons, Janne Kuokkanen
Missing: Mitch Marner, Matthew Tkachuk, Christian Dvorak, Olli Juolevi
Missing: Max Domi, Julius Bergman
Two more players have been named to Team USA’s final selection camp. Defenceman and co-captain Alec Regula and forward Jonathan Gruden will attend a two-day camp in Plymouth, Mich., on December 16 and 17 and should they make the final U.S. roster they would head from their to the Czech Republic and open the World Junior Hockey Championship on December 26 against Team Canada.
London will try to find that kind of success again as they end 2019 and begin 2020. They know, like they knew last year, and the year before, and the year before that, that it will not be easy. The Knights are going through the busiest part of their schedule as players begin to depart.
Still, it has happened before and London will look to make it happen again.